The Tale of Carlos Ghosn
Twenty-five years ago, little-known Carlos Ghosn landed his dream job at Renault. As deputy CEO, he was forced to confront huge losses at the ailing French car company, but he quickly made a name for himself as ‘Le Cost Killer!’
By slashing the workforce, he returned Renault to being a lean, mean auto-making machine. He won hero-status in Asia with his life chronicled in Japanese comics and led Renault’s share price to perform a 200% U-turn to the upside for good measure.
Investors would enjoy their stock doubling again under Ghosn before the 2008 Financial Crisis, and he would also repeat his miracles with struggling Nissan. Ghosn had made it. He was a true titan of industry, earning outrageous salaries from a brace of billion-dollar companies. But it wouldn’t last!
In 2018, he was accused of under-reporting his pay and ‘misusing company assets’ (joy-riding in the cars?). With his career imploding, Ghosn denied everything. Eventually, he was thrown in the locker by Tokyo police, and shares in all of his former babies crumbled.
Paying for bail managed to “free” him of prison food, but authorities still watched Ghosn’s house like a hawk. Then, puff. He was gone!
Leaving investors and the world bemused, Carlos Ghosn disappeared from Japan on the 29th of December and reappeared in his native Beirut, Lebanon, the next day. There, he still enjoys hero-status and holds significant investments in the wine industry. Automotive shareholders won’t be seeing him again any time soon. But how did he do it?
That’s the million-dollar question. Now a ‘catch me if you can’ international fugitive, Ghosn has promised a press conference tomorrow. The world will be watching! He might comment on the $350,000 getaway flight, if he expects Lebanon to hand him back, and rumors that he escaped in a music case after a “band” played at his home. In any case, his trial just became much more complicated, expensive, and controversial.
It’s unlikely that deep down, any country wants the trouble. A serial entrepreneur, markets ought to keep an eye on his upcoming business adventures in Lebanon (easier said than done!).